I am having trouble getting firm pickled peppers. I am following the recipes exactly but to no avail. Could you please give me some clues as to the possible problems. I have found references to causes for soft pickled cucumbers, but not peppers. Also, spoilage is not a reason. This is their state immediately following the processing.
Sandy A., Alberta, VA
I’ve consulted with the appropriate pickling experts and here’s the answer. During the pickling process, the cell walls of any vegetable will break down because of the heated pickling solution poured over them. Over time, pickled vegetables become softer and softer as their cell walls break down further because of the acetic acid and salt used in the pickling process. Thus, pickled peppers will be firmer the sooner they are consumed but never as firm as fresh ones. Also, use immature peppers for the firmest results–the same cell breakdown happens during ripening. Notice that tomatoes are pickled in the green stage, not at the ripe red stage. See also our article about pickling peppers.